Chinese USV Development Thread

Discussion in 'Navy' started by Dfangsaur, Jun 6, 2018.

  1. Dfangsaur
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    Dfangsaur Junior Member
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    Don't think we have a thread for these yet. A recent video about the USV swarm developed by a private company called 云洲.

    I think the strategic potential for USV swarms are great, especially if they can be delivered by AG600 amphibious plane which negates some of their range problems.
     
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  2. Dfangsaur
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    Dfangsaur Junior Member
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    A stealth USV from 云洲
     

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  3. Dfangsaur
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    Dfangsaur Junior Member
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    A military variant
     

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  4. Dfangsaur
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    Dfangsaur Junior Member
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    [​IMG]
    And this multirole one.
     
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  5. Hendrik_2000
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    Hendrik_2000 Brigadier

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    Via Grandy this is UUV not USV
    China military developing unmanned AI submarines to launch a new era of sea power

    Robotic subs, expected in the 2020s, could challenge the advantage Western naval powers have in strategic waters like the South China Sea

    PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 11:03pm
    UPDATED : Sunday, 22 July, 2018, 11:22pm

    [​IMG]

    China is developing large, smart and relatively low-cost unmanned submarines that can roam the world’s oceans to perform a wide range of missions, from reconnaissance to mine placement to even suicide attacks against enemy vessels, according to scientists involved in these artificial intelligence (AI) projects.

    The autonomous robotic submarines are expected to be deployed in the early 2020s. While not intended to entirely replace human-operated submarines, they will challenge the advantageous position established by Western naval powers after the second world war. The robotic subs are aimed particularly at the United States forces in strategic waters like the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean, the researchers said.

    The project is part of the government's ambitious plan to boost the country's naval power with AI technology. China has built the world's largest testing facility for surface drone boats in Zhuhai, Guangdong province. Military researchers are also developing an AI-assisted support system for submarine commanders. As the South China Morning Post reported earlier this year, that system will help captains make faster, more accurate judgments in the heat of combat situations.

    The new class of unmanned submarines will join the other autonomous or manned military systems on water, land and orbit to carry out missions in coordinated efforts, according to the researchers.

    The submarines will have no human operators on board. They will go out, handle their assignments and return to base on their own. They may establish contact with the ground command periodically for updates, but are by design capable of completing missions without human intervention.

    [​IMG]
    Type 039A diesel electric submarine (pictured). Photo: Handout

    But the researchers also noted that AI subs had limits, especially at the early stages of deployment. They will start with relatively simple tasks. The purpose of these projects is not to replace human crews entirely. To attack or not to attack, the final decision will still be in the hands of commanders, the researchers said.

    Current models of unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, are mostly small. Their deployment and recovery require another ship or submarine. They are limited in operational range and payload capacity.

    Now under development, the AI-powered subs are “giants” compared to the normal UUVs, according to the researchers. They station in dock as conventional submarines. Their cargo bay is reconfigurable and large enough to accommodate a wide range of freight, from powerful surveillance equipment to missiles or torpedoes. Their energy supply comes from diesel-electric engines or other power sources that ensure continuous operation for months.

    The robotic submarines rely heavily on artificial intelligence to deal with the sea’s complex environment. They must make decisions constantly on their own: changing course and depth to avoid detection; distinguishing civilian from military vessels; choosing the best approach to reach a designated position.

    They can gather intelligence, deploy mines or station themselves at geographical “chockpoints” where armed forces are bound to pass to ambush enemy targets. They can work with manned submarines as a scout or decoy to draw fire and expose the position of the adversary. If necessary, they can ram into a high-value target.

    Lin Yang, marine technology equipment director at the Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed to the South China Morning Post this month that China is developing a series of extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles, or XLUUVs.

    “Yes, we are doing it,” he said.

    The institute, in China’s northeast Liaoning province, is a major producer of underwater robots to the Chinese military. Lin developed China’s first autonomous underwater vehicle with operational depth beyond 6km. He is now chief scientist of the 912 Project, a classified programme to develop new-generation military underwater robots in time for the 100-year anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party in 2021.

    Lin called China’s unmanned submarine programme a countermeasure against similar weapons now under intensive development in the United States. He declined to elaborate on technical specifications because the information was “sensitive”.

    “It will be announced sooner or later, but not now,” he added.

    The US military last year made a deal with major defence contractors for two prototype XLUUVs by 2020. The US Navy would choose one prototype for the production of nine vehicles.

    Lockheed Martin’s Orca system would station in an area of operation with the ability to establish communication to base from time to time. It would return home after deploying payloads, according to the company’s website.

    “A critical benefit of Orca is that Navy personnel launch, recover, operate, and communicate with the vehicle from a home base and are never placed in harm’s way,” the company said in a statement announcing the system.

    Technical details on Orca, like its size or operational endurance, are not available. The company did not respond to the Post’s queries.

    Boeing is developing the other prototype, basing it on its Echo Voyager, a 50-ton autonomous submarine first developed for commercial uses like the mapping of the sea floor.

    The Echo Voyager is more than 15 metres long and 2.6 metres in diameter, according to Boeing. It can operate for months over a range of 12,000km, more than enough to sail from San Francisco to Shanghai. Its maximum speed reaches 15km an hour.

    The vessel needs to surface periodically as its batteries need to be recharged by air-breathing diesel engines. It can dive to 3km while carrying up to eight tons of cargo, Boeing said.

    Russia has reportedly built a large underwater drone capable to carry a nuclear weapon. The Status-6 autonomous torpedo could cruise across large distances between continents at high speed and deliver a 100-megaton warhead, according to news accounts.

    The Chinese unmanned submarine would not be nuclear-armed, according to a researcher involved in a separate programme in China.

    The main advantage of the AI subs is that they can be produced and operated on a large scale at a relatively low cost, said the researcher, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

    Traditional submarines must attain a high level of stealth to increase the chance of survival. The design has to consider other things including safety, comfort and the mental health of the crew to ensure human safety. All these elements add costs.

    In the 1990s, an Ohio-class submarine for the US Navy cost US$2 billion. The research, development and purchase of the first 12 of its new Columbia-class submarines, scheduled for delivery in the early 2020s, is more than US$120 billion.

    In contrast, the budget of the entire Orca programme is about US$40 million, according to Lockheed Martin.

    An AI sub “can be instructed to take down a nuclear-powered submarine or other high-value targets. It can even perform a kamikaze strike,” said the researcher, referring to the suicide attacks some Japanese fighter pilots made in the second world war.

    “The AI has no soul. It is perfect for this kind of job,” the researcher added.

    Luo Yuesheng, professor at the College of Automation in Harbin Engineering University, a major development centre for China’s new submarines, contended that AI subs would put the human captains of other vessels under enormous pressure in battle.

    It is not just that the AI subs are fearless, Luo said, but that they could learn from the sinking of other AI vessels and adjust their strategy continuously. An unmanned submarine trained to be familiar to a specific water “will be a formidable opponent”, he said.

    AI submarines are still at an early stage, Luo noted, and many technical and engineering hurdles remain before they can be deployed in open water.

    Hardware on board, for instance, must meet high standards of quality and reliability, since no mechanics will be on board to fix a broken engine, repair leaking pipes or tighten a screw, he said.

    The missions of unmanned submarines will also likely be limited to specific, relatively simple tasks, Luo said.

    “AI will not replace humans. The situation under water can get quite sophisticated. I don’t think a robot can understand or handle all the challenges,” he added.

    This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: race is on to develop unmanned submarine
     
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  6. Wakingbake
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    Wakingbake New Member
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    China Planning to Deploy Large Unmanned AI Submarines by 2020s
    © AFP 2018 / STR
    ASIA & PACIFIC
    22:14 22.07.2018(updated 22:24 22.07.2018)Get short URL
    370
    China is hoping huge, new, smart unmanned submarines will help give its naval fleet an edge in crucial waterways like the South China Sea and the western Pacific.

    The South China Post reported Sunday that Beijing expects to deploy artificially intelligent unmanned submarines in the early 2020s. The seacraft could be used to survey waters, place munitions or even be used in suicide attacks against enemies, scientists involved in the program told the outlet. Lin Yang, marine technology equipment director at the Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences, confirmed the program, and said it was a response to work in the US to develop similar watercraft.

    These subs, dubbed extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles, or XLUUVs, are much bigger than the current crop of underwater vehicles — large enough to dock as conventional submarines and to carry significant weaponry and other equipment. Their artificial intelligence will help them operate undersea, not only to avoid natural phenomena, but to detect and identify friendly or hostile ships and make navigational decisions to avoid them. The XLUUVs are also designed to complete tasks without needing to seek input during the course of a mission, the SCMP reports. The intention is for the subs to depart, complete their missions and return without needing guidance.

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    © REUTERS / U.S. NAVY
    China Scrambles Jets, Sends Ships to Warn Off US Navy From S China Sea


    One of the main advantages of the AI subs, however, is their relatively low cost, as all of the investment that goes into making the vehicles survivable environments for humans can be stripped away. Without those frills, the ships can operate fearlessly, using artificial intelligence systems to learn from what is happening around them without having to be concerned with protecting human cargo. They could be a major issue for enemy commanders to deal with, Luo Yuesheng, professor at the College of Automation in Harbin Engineering University, where Chinese subs are developed, told SCMP.

    Of course, without humans on board, the unmanned subs will have to be especially resilient, as human diagnostics and repairs while at sea won't be possible.

    China has been increasingly investing in its navy, opening its first overseas naval base in 2017 and ramping up production of its growing fleet of aircraft carriers. Beijing announced earlier this year that it would be increasing its military budget by nearly 10 percent, the biggest jump in a recent upward trend that has seen military spending grow from $132 billion to $175 billion. (The US defense budget for 2018, by contrast, was just shy of $700 billion.)

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    © AP PHOTO / ZHA CHUNMING/XINHUA
    Beijing Building World’s Largest Drone Ship Test Site by South China Sea


    The subs will join China's underwater drones, like the 11-foot, 1.5 ton Qialong III that scouts for deep-sea fossil fuel deposits as well as potential foreign ships, and other autonomous systems on land and in the air to act in concert with People's Liberation Army-Navy personnel. They are not intended to replace manned underwater vehicles, but to provide more options for human commanders, researchers on the program told the outlet.

    Xu Guangyu, a retired general and senior consultant with the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association in Beijing, told Sputnik in February that while China intends to keep up with the US in terms of expertise and technology, that doesn't mean China is looking to achieve parity with the US' massive war machine.

    "China would focus on competing against the United States on quality. We cannot fall behind in terms of technology. But in terms of the size or numbers service members of the military, we would not try to ‘strike a balance' with them. For example, they [the United States] have thousands of nuclear warheads. We would not be so foolish as to spend a lot of money on such weapons that lie dormant in storage facilities. If the accuracy and power of our missiles are strong, it's enough for us, because one of our missiles would equal 10 missiles from the United States," Xu said.

    Tensions between the US and China are already high when it comes to the world's oceans. The US objects to China's continued building in contested zones of the South China Sea, and China has expressed strong opposition to the proximity of US vesselsto the self-ruling island of Taiwan, which it considers a province of the mainland.
     
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